7 tips for hosting overnight guests

By far the most precious thing you can give overnight guests is privacy. It's so awkward to be a guest; you feel on display, like you have no control over your situation. 

Provide a little sanctuary for your overnight guests; a retreat where they can go and regroup.

These tips for hosting overnight guests will help ensure they feel at home in your home.

  1.  Provide Privacy for Overnight Guests

If you don't have a spare bedroom, kick one of the kids out of his or her room for the visit. (You can make it up to him later.)

Guests need a quiet refuge, especially older people who aren't used to being around rambunctious youngsters. (At least, not anymore.)

Here are the basics to include to make a room comfy and cozy for your overnight guests:

  • Freshly made bed. Consider using only a fitted sheet topped by a comforter, especially if your guest has limited use of his hands (such as arthritis causes.) The comforter or duvet (a removable, washable comforter cover) replaces the bedspread and top sheet. As an added guest bonus, it's a cinch to make - just fluff and go.
  • Comfy pillows. Foam or down? Ask their preference.
  • Extra blankets. On my father's occasional overnight visits, I got into the habit of equipping the designated guest room with at least two extra throw blankets. He never again asked me whether I had the heat "hooked up" or if I felt cold.
  • Dresser. Clear out a couple of drawers so your overnight guests can unpack and get rid of their suitcases.
  • Bedside table and light. Make sure the table is close to the bed so your guests can read before drifting off. A good rule of thumb: The base of the shade should be at shoulder level while sitting up in bed. No bedside table handy? A spare chair will do in a pinch. Just set a light on it, and your guest can hang her necklaces or robe on the back.

  • Tissues. Allergies, colds, whatever the cause, make sure you have the solution.
  • Closet. Make room to hang stuff. Filled to the brim? Relocate some stuff for the weekend or week so that your guests can have things the way they like them. Stock the closet with hangers.

  2.  Guest Bedroom Amenities to Consider

These lovely amenities are simply icing on the cake. These aren't essential - but providing them might get you back in the will.

  • Vase of flowers. If you can cull them from your garden, all the better!
  • Bedside water carafe. This can be one of those fancy carafes with a glass that fits on top or simply an individual-size bottled water.
  • Lint brush. This is especially considerate if you have pets.
  • Laundry bag. This way they can do their own laundry if they choose.
  • Basket of food. Fruit, cookies, crackers, tea and coffee are thoughtful provisions.
  • Basket, bowl or other empty decorative container. To provide your overnight guests a visible place for keys, jewelry, and other essentials.

   3.  Guest Bathroom Essentials

If there is any way to give your guests their own bathroom, do it. No one likes sharing bathrooms with people outside the immediate family. Yeah, you love Uncle Scott - but do you really want to negotiate around his shaving supplies?

 For extra comfort, stock the guest bath with:

  • Fluffy Towels
  • Wash cloths
  • Soaps
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Cups
  • Hand lotion
  • Disposable razor
  • Hair spray

  4.  Ask Guests About Food Preferences and Allergies

Ask your overnight guests about food allergies, dislikes, and dietary restrictions. Buy snacks that they can help themselves to between meals. And cook ahead so you can spend time with your guests.

  5.  Provide the 411 on Pets in Your Home

How could anyone not love Fluffy? And Bruiser, who wouldn't hurt a fly? Tell that to Grandpa who sneezes when you say "cat". Or to Aunt Alice who's terrified of anything on four legs.

Yes, this is your pet's home. But they have to make compromises, too. Warn guests that you have a boa constrictor.

They may decide that the nearest Embassy Suites would work better. If not, well, they were warned.

That said, keep pets confined during a guest's visit as much as possible. Dogs can get a bit territorial when strangers are wandering around the house in the dark.

And you don't want cousin Flora to be afraid to go to the bathroom at night.

  6. Share the Family's Schedule with Overnight Guests

Knowledge is power. Make a list of any planned activities for your guests. Also give them brochures on activities in your area, and a list of restaurants.

Ask them to look the information over and let you know what they'd like to do during their stay. And while you're at it, jot down your family's daily routine.

What time do you usually get up for breakfast? Is it a serve yourself affair? When is lunch and dinner? When do the kids usually take a nap? Do you take afternoon walks? What time do you usually go to bed?

Make it clear they can adopt any routine they like, but at least they know what the rest of the family is up to. There's nothing worse for a guest than sitting in your room wondering what the day holds in store for you. You want guest, not a prisoner.

  7.  Let Freedom Reign

Finally, give them their freedom. If you have a second car, let them poke around by themselves if they feel up to it. Give them a key to the house so they can go for a walk and get back inside.

› Helping Overnight Guests Feel at Home